Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg


Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within

30th Anniversary Edition

Natalie Goldberg

ISBN 978-1-61180-308-2


This book is one of Natalie Goldberg’s earlier works, first published in 1986 with the 30th anniversary published in 2016. According to her website, the book has been translated into fourteen different languages and has sold more than a million copies worldwide. In Writing Down the Bones, the author brings together principles of Zen with writing and writing practice, outlining ways to help get the creative juices flowing, and emphasizing the importance of writing on a regular basis.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and felt that Goldberg took a complex subject and broke it down into simple but elegant language. Her primary focus is on the art of practice, to always be in a writer’s mind, to focus on the details even during your normal daily life, and then to write. Goldberg advises the writer to resist editing and give themselves permission to be somewhat sloppy during the initial creation process in order to allow the words to flow more naturally from their pen and she provides a number of creative suggestions for writing prompts that can help the writer to dig deeper. Her recommended writing prompts do tend to lean towards memoir-type writing, which makes sense as she typically writes either memoir or instruction books on writing and painting, but it can easily stoke the creative fire for fictional stories and creative non-fiction as well.

In my opinion, Writing Down the Bones, while a touch repetitive, is an excellent resource to encourage the novice writer to develop good writing habits to keep the words flowing as well as practical support to add passion and poignancy to the words of the more experienced author.